Malika Redmond, center | Courtesy of Women Engaged
To honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday, President Biden and Vice President Harris came to Atlanta with an agenda that prioritized speaking to Black voters on the campus of prominent HBCUs and The King Center, signaling the Administration’s commitment to upholding voting rights for the communities who made their victory and the shift in the balance of power in the U.S. Senate possible.
Black women led the efforts to create this historic change for political progress. As we consider the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the threats to Black women’s rights—from the ballot box to our bodies—are grave. Georgia has taken center stage in both the fights for voting rights and reproductive rights.
We cannot look at these vital civil rights fights as separate crusades, rather we must see them as intertwined paths to justice.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is considered one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation in our country’s history. One can argue that by opening the ability of the entire country to vote, we saw progressive breakthroughs in policy advancing economic mobility and equal opportunity. And less than a decade later came the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973 giving women the right to access abortion legally all across the country.
But this right doesn’t mean everyone has access. Roe v. Wade ruling remains a promise that has not been fully realized for Black women. Both the Hyde and Helms Amendments set in motion the strategy of using legislation to weaken the power of Roe and deprive poor women (disproportionately women of color) access to abortion.
Roe v. Wade now sits in a precarious state as the Supreme Court upheld a six-week abortion ban in Texas and has agreed to hear a case on a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It’s no accident that the fragility of Roe v. Wade is most felt in the South, when we look at the…